Ichabod is itchy

June 29, 2006

Sold down the river

Filed under: literature — by ichabodisitchy @ 10:52 pm

I am embarassed to say that I have managed to go 29 years without ever reading a Mark Twain novel. Shocking, I know– but I have, at last, remedied the situation. My first venture into Twain-world has been Pudd’nhead Wilson. And it didn’t disappoint. It’s the story of a determined mother, Roxy. “Only one sixteenth of her was black, and that sixteenth did not show… To all intents and purposes Roxy was as white as anybody, but the one sixteenth of her which was black outvoted the other fifteen parts and made her a negro. She was a slave, and saleable as such”. Roxy has a baby boy at the same time as the mistress of her house does. To give her baby a better place in life, she swaps the babies in their cradles, as they sleep and the book then follows the lives of the two children, who grow up unaware of their ‘real’ station in life.

Roxy’s principal motivation for making the trade is the fear that her son may grow up and be ‘sold down the river’. Right from the beginning, the reader is made to understand that there could be nothing worse than being sold down the river. But it is not til quite late on in the book that you find out what exactly going ‘down the river’ means. This is one of the major successes of the book. The suspense of what lies down the river keeps you gripped and your imagination is allowed to run wild so, before you know it, you are terrified that anyone you have built up any sympathy for might suffer that terrible fate.

Another of the successes is the nature vs nurture theme that, inevitably, runs throughout the book, and is a debate you are thrown into again and again. Is it inevitable that Roxy’s real son, whose every whim is indulged, will become a ‘rotten egg’? Could he have turned out to be as angelic as Chambers– the boy who ended up growing up as a negro slave? And would either be able to handle their new positions in life if the secret should ever come out (an event that the reader foresees as inevitable in the opening Chapters, when Pudd’nhead is introduced with his obsession for collecting everyone’s fingerprints)?

With arson, murder, duels and a pair of extraordinary twins, this is definitely not a book to miss.

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June 27, 2006

Tap out a song…

Filed under: webTech — by ichabodisitchy @ 10:11 pm

A fun way to pass the time is The Song Tapper. You tap out a song on your space bar and the song tapper tries to figure out what it is. It picked out the Star Wars theme tune when I tried it, and had no problems with Old Macdonald Had a Farm either (although offered Eric Clapton’s Layla as an alternative).

You can also listen to your tapping (this is my star wars)…

Rather silly– but I can certainly see everyone in the office spending at least 10 minutes of tomorrow tapping away in front of their computer screens…

June 26, 2006

Felix Sieca?

Filed under: football — by ichabodisitchy @ 8:18 pm

Apologies for the plethora of football posts, but I seem to be spending a higher-than-average amount of time watching the World Cup this time round. I guess with my Argentine/Brazilian/English background, I’m entitled to multiple allegiances that means I stand a good chance of ‘my’ team getting through to the final!

I’ve found a site that generates Brazilian football shirts for you– my name comes up as Felix Sieca, which I can’t quite figure out. Lewis’ is more understandable– Lewildo. Who would you be if you were a Brazilian football star?

brazilshirt.jpg

June 25, 2006

Ref– are you blind?!

Filed under: football — by ichabodisitchy @ 9:26 pm

Have just watched the Holland-Portugal game (Portugal won 1-0)– you've never seen so much foul play. It was such a dirty game. There were 16 yellow cards, which, according to the commentators we were listening to, is equal to the world record for number of yellow cards given in a single game. 4 men were sent off the pitch (2 from each team) and there wasn't 5 minutes of play–especially in the second half–that wasn't interrupted by some pushing, diving shin-kicking or head-butting incident.

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It reminded me of the football game on the Island of Naboo (in Bedknobs and Broomsticks). The ref, like Emelius Browne, seemed completely helpless to control the game or cool the tempers. All he could do was delve into his pocket for the precious stash of yellow cards.

All this foul play has, at least, worked in our favour– Costinha and Deco (two important players for Portugal)–won't be able to play against England in the quarter final on Saturday. Let's hope the rest of the team clean up their act by then, or all eyes will be on the ref instead of the ball.

Memorable first lines…

Filed under: literature,Uncategorized — by ichabodisitchy @ 12:29 pm

Just finished reading Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini– a fantastic swashbuckling adventure– and wanted to share the opening line because it's one of the best I've come across:  He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. And that was all his patrimony.

Love it.

June 19, 2006

Google fighting

Filed under: webTech — by ichabodisitchy @ 9:56 pm

Perhaps you all know about Google fighting, but I only discovered it today and, in case you haven't come across it, wanted to point it out. Google fight compares the number of results returned for two 'competing' search terms. There is a little animation whilst the fight goes on and then the two search terms are displayed as proportional bars with the results.

gfight.jpg
I was introduced to Google fight at work, where we were debating whether to use the word 'nutritional' or 'nutritive' in a story– I was for the former, a colleague for the latter and, given that both are in the dictionary, we decided to Google fight it out. Needless to say, 'nutritional' was the resounding winner (50 million results vs just under 3 million).

For those of you with little imagination for setting up Google fights, there are some pre-set examples (Bush beats Bin Laden by about 4 to 1 and the pen proves mightier than the sword with 176 million vs 77). And if you don't speak English, don't despair for it's also available in French (although no other languages as yet).

June 18, 2006

Happy Father’s Day

Filed under: life,reflections — by ichabodisitchy @ 7:50 pm

Today is Father's Day in the UK and I wanted to send out best wishes to all you dads out there… One of my friends, Rafael Behr, has only recently become a father and last week he wrote a rather moving piece for the Observer Woman Magazine called  'Is being a dad ruining your career?'.

People are always talking about the problems that women face in trying to juggle their work and family life– but what about men? They have just as much dual responsibility to handle and are equally keen to spend time with their children. Raf does a good job of describing the dilemma from a dad's point of view.

June 14, 2006

Cryptic clue of the day

Filed under: crosswords — by ichabodisitchy @ 11:29 pm

"Rule keeps some teams one nil up" (4)

Go to the cryptic creations page for the solution. 

The old world is black and white

Filed under: reflections — by ichabodisitchy @ 11:24 pm

Every now and then Harry–my younger stepson–comes out with a 'Harry-ism' that opens a window into his perception of the world. I love the way that kids try to make sense of the world and think they have it all figured out. And sometimes I wish things were just the way Harry envisages them. Yesterday he was giving me career advice. Having watched me take a paid week off in between jobs (having not taken all my holiday entitlement), he thought he had found a cunning way of getting extra holiday time and told us that when he grows up he is going to move jobs every month– that way, he will only have to work every three out of four weeks but still get paid for the full month. How lovely. And then I shattered his illusions by explaining the term 'freelancer'.

But my favourite 'Harry-ism' was one he came out with a couple of years ago. And I didn't have the heart to disillusion him. We had just bought Drop Dead Fred on dvd and, inevitably, had watched it 100 times. On the way to school, Harry said "We're so lucky to have Drop Dead Fred on dvd aren't we?" "Yeeees" I replied. He went on to explain "I mean, in 15 years time, when it is only available in black and white, we'll still have it in colour". He had it all figured out– movies had a limited life span after which, they became 'old' and, therefore, only available in black and white.

I'm sure all kids must have these worldly insights. What's your favourite? 

June 11, 2006

Cryptic clue of the day

Filed under: crosswords — by ichabodisitchy @ 8:25 pm

"It's too hot for the twenty redheads standing outside church" (8) 

See the cryptic creations page for solution.

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